Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

Until Sept. 19, if diners had wanted to see Yelp reviews for Elizabeth, N.J., restaurant First American Fried Chicken, they would have found just two of them, praising the food, wide selection and late hours. Now, the majority of reviews give the restaurant one star, refer to the owners as "terrorists," talk about "72 virgin bucket specials" and mention — repeatedly — that their chicken is "the bomb."

Say one thing for certain: The lists don't lack for leading lights.

When President Obama doled out the 2015 National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals on Thursday, plenty of the artists and arts patrons he draped with awards had familiar names — including Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Terry Gross and nearly two dozen others.

Here is what happens in the first 100 pages of The Wonder: Lib, an English nurse in the mid-19th century, is sent to a small town in Ireland, a country whose people she instantly hates, to keep watch over a young girl who claims she has lived without food for four months. Lib watches the girl and thinks unkind things about the Irish. The girl does not eat. That is it.

When Frances Moore Lappe wrote the best-selling Diet For A Small Planet back in 1971, she helped start a conversation about the social and environmental impacts of the foods we choose.

And, back then, what she had to say was revolutionary. Her idea that a plant-centered diet could be better for the planet — and our health — than a meat-centered diet was considered radical. "It was heresy," Lappe told me during a recent interview.

Wearing overalls and a John Deere baseball cap, 79-year-old Norman Greer stands on the front porch of his home, looking out at his property. There's a grain bin, some tractors, a barn, and rows of corn and soy beans.

"Where I live, right here, is 52 acres, and I farm 300 acres," Greer says. He's also raised hogs and cattle, but as he points out vacant animal pens, he says, "I've gotten too old to fool with it."

A disturbing feature of this election cycle has been the growth in anti-Semitic hate speech online.

Jewish journalists, in particular, have received insults, slurs and threats over Twitter and other social media.

The Anti-Defamation League announced this week it is hiring a representative in Silicon Valley to work with tech companies to help fight anti-Semitic abuse online.

The holidays on the horizon promise golden opportunities to shamelessly stuff your face. But munch carefully: All that grub comes at a cost. Researchers averaged the daily weights of 3,000 people in Germany, Japan and the U.S. for a year and saw a spike in weight gain following every major holiday.

Each of the photos in Capt. William A. Prickitt's album could fit in a locket: headshots of 17 black soldiers who served under the Union Army officer during the Civil War, most of their names handwritten on the mat surrounding the images.

At just 2 inches tall, the square, leather-bound album itself could be easily misplaced among the more than 35,000 artifacts it will join at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens this week in Washington, D.C.

For director Antoine Fuqua, remaking the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven was a return to childhood. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the original film reminds him of his grandmother, who used to watch Westerns with him on Sunday afternoons when he was growing up.

"I would sit there with her, and she would make me whatever food I want," Fuqua says. "What I recall about [The Magnificent Seven] was ... listening to her talk about each guy as they were introduced."

When's the last time you ordered turtle when you went out to eat?

Most of us would probably turn it down in an instant if we saw it on a menu. But terrapin was a completely normal entree for diners at the finest restaurants of a century ago. America's changing tastes — and what they have to say about our culture — are explored in a new nonfiction book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America.

Aminu Gamawa wants to change the way Islamic scholars think about health care.

He's a Harvard-trained lawyer who lives in Nigeria, where maternal and child health are major concerns. According to UNICEF, 1 in 13 Nigerian women die while pregnant or while giving birth. In addition, 2,300 children under age five die each day. Many of those deaths, says UNICEF, could be prevented with appropriate medical care.

Television used to be careful when it told fictional stories about the presidency. It was bound by a sense of decorum. But things changed forever with the famous commercial for the movie Independence Day that wowed those watching the 1996 Super Bowl by blowing the White House sky high. Ever since, presidents have been fair game. You can portray them as thugs, schemers or murderers — or knock them off to boost ratings.

Photo by Sara Stathas / Milwaukee Magazine

Almost two-and-a-half years ago, we first learned about a novel program that uses the characters and lines of Shakespeare to work with veterans suffering from PTSD and a range of other mental health and reintegration issues. 

3,000-Year-Old Cooking Fail Found At A Danish Dig Site

Sep 21, 2016

Denmark currently holds the title of world's happiest country. But we could imagine at least one Norseman back in time who, after a failed cooking attempt, probably felt little of the famed Danish hygge.

In a hilly wetland north of Silkeborg, archaeologists have unearthed a wholly intact Bronze Age clay pot containing a cheesy and charred residue burned to its inside.

Eily is 18, Irish, just barely removed from the "dun school skirts" of early life. She arrives in London — alive with "traffic all gadding in the midday shine" and "pigeons at infernal coo" — to audition for drama school. She is young, but as she steps into character, the judges can see that "in her I've done my time." She gets in, and starts a new life in grimy Camden of the 1990s: "Here I am and here is for me."

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